LACMA receives 109 indigenous American works of art


Margaret Tafoya, “Wedding Vase”, 20th century, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of the Reiter Family (photo © Museum Associates / LACMA)

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has received a treasure of 109 Native American works from the Reiter family collection that chronicles important developments in Native art traditions of the Southwest. The gift includes 82 ceramic pieces from the Southwest as well as paintings and drawings, Pomo feather baskets, sculptures from the Pacific Northwest, and ancient works of art from Central America and Meso.

The collection is a testament to the resurgence of ancient Pueblo techniques, styles and patterns in the late 19th and 20th centuries, a lineage exemplified by the famous potter Hopi-Tewa Nampeyo of Hano. Inspired by the Sikyatki ceramic fragments found in the First Mesa Hopi, where many Tewa Pueblo residents took refuge during the Spanish invasion in the 1690s, Nampeyo achieved a unique synthesis of the motifs of his ancestors and his own. creations almost 400 years later. The pots made by his descendants, Fannie Nampeyo, as well as living artists Dextra Nampeyo and Steve Lucas, testify to the continuity of these visual languages ​​in the present.

The Reiter family donation also includes a group of pots from neighboring indigenous peoples to the southwest, including the Santa Clara Pueblo, known for its polished pottery and red polychrome pottery. A wedding vase by Margaret Tafoya, a 20th century artist in Santa Clara, features a relief sculpture of the serpent Avanyu, the Tewa guardian of water.

The gift comes at a time when the museum and gallery are going up interest in indigenous art, but also an increased awareness of its circulation and commercialization in the circuits of the non-indigenous art market to the possible detriment of indigenous communities. This week, members of the Osage Nation denounced the auction of a Missouri cave with prehistoric Native American paintings on its wall. Dubbed “the most important rock art site in North America,” the cave was sold by Selkirk Auctioneers for $ 2.2 million to a private buyer.

A spokesperson for LACMA told Hyperallergic that the Reiter giveaway works were acquired “through the artists and / or their descendants directly, as well as through the aftermarket, auction or gallery.” According to a press release, the Reiters began their collection with contemporary works purchased from the Santa Fe Indian Market and other locations in the 1980s and then backed down, acquiring older and more historic pieces.

“The Reiter family collections are both historically and institutionally important in several ways,” the museum said in a statement. “Many of these works represent significant moments when the indigenous peoples of the Southwest began to reclaim their traditional culture and integrate into the world of Western art. “

“By promising these works at LACMA, the Reiters wish to share with the general public the powerful stories and artistic legacy of the Native American artists who inspired them so much.”

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